Ferraria in containers

Don Mahoney
Wed, 22 Dec 2004 10:16:19 PST
Dear All, At Strybing (now San Francisco Bot. Garden) we have grown Ferraria crispa in pots and it sends up a few flowers every year if we can keep the snails and slugs from it. We are not allowed to uou pesticides or baits because of city policies. It has not multiplied very fast. They get one ot two light liquid fertilizers a year and are grown in black gallon cans in half peat and half perlite . In the summer the pots are allowed to go dry and are watered only by occasional fog drip. At my house in a somewhat warmer summer/ colder winter location along the east bay my F. crispa has never bloomed in a container, But F.densepunctulata (Silverhill seed) has bloomed reliably and is a quite beatuiful flower even if it only lasts for one day. Last year it had 10 or 12 flowers, I have it in a deep 10" clay pot in half sand and half peat and it gets liquid fertilzer 3 or 4 times during the growing season. They are really suseptible to frost and I've lost every one I've left out when it gets below 30 F. Don Mahoney Richmond, Ca.

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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Ferraria--PBS TOW (Mary Sue Ittner)


Message: 1
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 08:01:21 -0800
From: Mary Sue Ittner <>
Subject: Re: [pbs] Ferraria--PBS TOW
To: Pacific Bulb Society <>
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Dear All,

I realize this is a very busy time of year, but hope a few people will 
respond to this week's topic of the week. Do many grow it? In my experience 
at least one of the species (F. crispa)  is not very hardy so that limits 
who can grow it outdoors. Even in my climate in a cold year it turns to mush.

Like John I really enjoyed seeing this genus in the wild, but often found I 
wasn't at all sure which species I was looking at. Later consulting my 
guides I still wasn't sure. The De Vos monograph which Rachel shared with 
me is helpful, but in her key the leaves and the anthers are very important 
and our slides are not often good enough to tell or I don't understand the 
terms well enough. I've added pictures to the wiki of Ferraria crispa corms 
which are very different and of a species blooming in the Karoo Gardens we 
saw in August 2003. Their plants had numbers on them, not names so 
identification was uncertain.…

I think it could be Ferraria divaricata which John says deserves greater 
attention. I'm sure Julian Slade will keep me honest and tell me if I've 
missed it. If I am correct and since it has a bluish median zone, it could 
be ssp. divaricata (there are four subspecies.) One of the significant 
features of this one according to De Vos and John is a wide bell-shaped cup 
and I'm not sure exactly what this is supposed to look like. The diagrams 
in the monograph don't show a very strong difference to me between how this 
species looks and a couple of the others. It does seem to have wider 
segments than the other one we saw at Karoo which Julian identified as F. 
uncinata and which seems to be closely related. (The key says to look at 
the margins of the foliage leaves. F. uncinata has some that are crisped 
and the margins of F. divaricata are smooth.) Some of the leaves on the 
unidentified one looked very unhappy and I am wondering what diseases 
Ferrarias might be susceptible to.

I've mentioned before that I am growing a F. crispa that I grew from IBS 
seed marked F. uncinata that has a really nice fragrance so perhaps 
fragrance cannot be an identifying feature.

I'd like to know how to grow Ferraria better. I find it difficult to get 
any of the ones I grow other that F. crispa to come up regularly and to 
bloom. Lauw said they needed to be started early and I believe they need 
deep pots, but any cultivation tips any of you have would be appreciated. I 
am really fond of F. crispa ssp. nortierii because it does not flop and has 
been a consistent bloomer and is weirdly beautiful.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers 


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